logo Minutes of a Committee meeting
held on 9 November 2018

Present: Susan Stobbs, Jo Hesslewood, Peter Gotham, Dick Baxter and Charles Hattersley. Apologies were received from Ray Gay and Ismail Akram.

1. Matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting

There were no Matters arising from the informal meeting on 14 May.

2. Recent events on the Common

Circus, Town and Gown run and Bonfire night were all pleasant events with no particular issues, only a lack of rubbish picking in the Thurston Fair sub area, note sent to Anthony French and Cambridge Live. The Orchard picnic that was rained off was missed but looking forward to next year, maybe even a New Year small gathering? Drug dealing and taking has escalated again in the orchard, local streets and De Freville area. A meeting with Chesterton local Councillors and police representatives was held on November 4th at Boathouse pub meeting room with some 60 residents voicing their concern. The police explained this was associated with the publicised 'County Line' gang operations and they were on it locally and nationally with a recent arrest 26 October in the Maids Causeway area. Whether CCTV around orchard would help was generally felt to be a non starter, however City Council do have deployable cameras linked to their Guildhall control room if things get very much worse this could help. A high profile of members of public could be a more practical action. Parking around Fort St George was noted as being virtually absent since the new manageress arrived with her dog living on the premises. Dick has recently engaged with her informally and was pleased with a positive attitude and she suggested we might use the pub for meetings if she made space available. A neighbourhood social network called 'Nextdoor' was being used by people in our area and it seems a good method of community communication if used correctly: drug dealing has been noted and discussed as well as people looking for services etc. Susan will send out notification to membership.

3. Orchard matters

The Wooden picnic table has been well used. Dick reported that his contact at the synagogue will make the suggested plaque, with words agreed, via his university engineering department, as commercial firms were proving impractical. Will Beavis of the City Council will order some more hawthorn hedging. Fencing has been replaced by Emmanuel college at appropriate locations, although one piece remains to be inserted. (Susan has been in touch about this.) Drinking fountain project in Cambridge is moving ahead with first one being installed on Parker's Piece adjacent to newly opened University Arms and funded by them. Susan has spoken to Antony French about the possibility of the next one being installed in the orchard. Funding for this to be discussed. Volunteers‘ Session on Sunday saw the hedge on North fence line of Emmanuel college pruned back. Additionally the hops were cut back after a reasonable season, and the vines were draped around the gate, pro tem. It was agreed to cancel the December session, because members get so busy at that time of year. Susan will circulate a newsletter and try to arrange a session with festive drinks in the new year.

4. Money matters

At the informal meeting on 14 May the Treasurer presented a summary of the accounts to date. This showed a possible overspent of £263 if all other anticipated expenditures occur. He has talked to our bank and we now have a system to enable BACS transactions for membership and donations. Susan has notified members of the details: some sort of reference system is desirable to enable tracking. A small sum of £66.34 had been paid to renew the website domain licence. This is required every 10 years. Susan will check with the Treasurer to see whether we need to ask for further donations in the next newsletter to help fund the shortfall.

5. Membership matters

A Co-opted member of the Committee from the boaters community was raised and Charles reported that Ms Kate Hurst of Odessa narrow boat would be delighted to join FoMC and fulfil the role. Local meeting with Kate to be arranged soon with Susan & Charles. It was reported that Nick Levine, an earlier Committee member of FoMC would be returning to Cambridge in the new year and it was agreed to ask him if he would like to join the Committee again.

6. Other Council matters

Thistles seem to be thriving on the Common which could be due to the nitrogen enriched atmosphere. It was queried if thistles are a weed that should be legally controlled. Susan will raise this with the Council along with other remedial work queries. The Midsummer Fair Stakeholders meeting held on September 19 was discussed, although the minutes are still awaited and are being chased. Susan agreed to raise our serious concerns with all our local Councilors, since it did not appear that they had been invited to the meeting. Charles to ask Mitcham's Corner group to comment.

7. Biodiversity

This is ongoing. The swift calls have been reinstated. The bees seem healthy. Susan reported that she had discussed the possibility of introducing a population of hedgehogs into the orchard with a local rescue organization (the Shepreth hedgehog hospital). They had asked us to contact members to do a survey of existing populations in this area, and we had a good response from members showing several active colonies around gardens. It was agreed with the hospital that it would be better to release new hedgehogs into these existing colonies rather than into the orchard and members who replied have been encouraged to contact Shepreth directly if they would like to rehouse further hedgehogs.

8. AOB

Any ideas on a speaker for the AGM are welcome.

Charles Hattersley (Secretary)
20 November 2018.